Monday, December 10, 2012

Next Best Thing: The Constant Tower

1. What is the working title of your next book?
The Constant Tower
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had a dream of a world where its inhabitants are transported every night across the planet. So when they woke up, they never knew where they were. In the dream, someone said, “But the tower is constant.” 
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Heroic fantasy/alternate world setting.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
For Nahas, my nature-blessed warrior king (with the physically-disabled way-too gentle son:  Ben Cross, Jason Statham, or Julian Sands. For his right-hand man: Julian Sands or Jason Statham.   
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A boy cannot go on a journey.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be published by Wildside, the small traditional publishing company that also published my first novel, Wind Follower.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About five years. I tend to procrastinate or to get lost writing other things.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

  • I don’t know if there’s a book that plays with the notion of moving unstable worlds as Constant Tower does but it’s “sword and soul” so it’s got a lot of heroic fantasy things.  It’s a bit like N K Jemison’s series.
  • It’s a bit like Stephen King’s “The Stand” because  the hero is physically disabled and doesn’t believe he’s the hero.
  • It’s a bit like the Lathe of Heaven — for some of the characters— because each night they have to adjust themselves to the world they find outside.
  • It’s a lot like the climate change debate, and debates about helping the poor; the characters don’t really care that their world is falling apart.
  • There are Unfleshed spirits and demons so it’s very like some of C S Lewis’s stories.
  • The relationships in the clan we spend the most time with involve marriages where one woman has two husbands. In that way, it is like Sylvia Kelso’s Amberlight trilogy.
  • It’s an adult novel but there are strong young adult elements  and there is a search for the constant tower. So there is a kind of Lloyd Alexander vibe to it.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I tend to like writing about disabled or wounded people. I got to thinking: There are so many emotional and physical crises people go through in fantasy stories and what if one couldn’t go away and flee the castle? And what if we had a hero who was emotionally, physically, and psychologically not cut out to be a hero? What if a warrior-king's sickly son struggled with his destiny while his clan warred with an enemy clan with whom he strongly identifies? What if he is a priest-physician of his people and he has to become a warrior? And what if there is an ancient myth which tells of a mythical Constant Tower that can change the world but he doesn’t believe in such nonsense?
10. What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Here’s my blurb:  Fifteen year old Prince Psal, the son of the nature-blessed warrior-king Nahas, should have been named Crown Prince of all Wheel Clan lands, but he was born sickly and “damaged” with a clubfoot. A priest-physician of his people, Psal lacks a warrior’s heart. Still, he desires to earn his father’s respect and become a chief within his clan. If not, he wishes to escape his clan altogether. But his love for Cassia, the daughter of his father’s enemy and his petulant and “weak” personality are working against him. When war comes, and he challenges his clan on the atrocities they commit, his chances of rising to chief become even more difficult. And now, outside the longhouse, the mysterious towers —which the clans use to challenge the power of the nightly third moon— are rebelling.  The king’s longhouse has become Psal’s prison. Psal is a prince who cannot go on a journey. Since the going forth of the Creator’s ancient curse, the power of the night has ruled. But a prophecy exists  — not that Psal believes in such matters— of three great ones who will restore the night. Could Psal and his mysteriously fellow-studier be those great ones? What exactly is required of him? And would he be willing to lose his father’s waning respect or throw himself out into the night to find his destiny?
Here are the excellent writers who you’ll hear from next. Hope you enjoy their writing as much as I do.
Carole McDonnell holds a BA degree in Literature from SUNY Purchase and has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appear in various anthologies including “So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction,” edited by Nalo Hopkinson and published by Arsenal Pulp Press; Fantastic Visions III" anthology published by Fantasist Enterprises; “Jigsaw Nation” published by Spyre publications, “Griots: A Sword and Soul anthology,” edited by Milton Davis and Charles Saunders, “Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color,” “Fantastic Stories of the Imagination” edited by Warren Lapine and published by Wilder Publications. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband, two sons, and their pets. Her novel, Wind Follower, was published by Wildside Books. Her other works include My Life as an Onion, Seeds of Bible Study: How NOT to Study the Bible. Her collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction, is available on kindle.
To learn more about Carole, visit her:
Twitter: @scifiwritir

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Personality of a Personal God

I can't help it; I just love Yah's personality.

But let's back up a little. We Christians have a theistic God. This means -- breaking it down-- that we believe that the sole Creator of all that compasses the universe, the Only God of all the multiverses, the Uncreated Creator of all things who was never made and can never be unmade and is eternally NOW, is infinitely involved with the smallest and largest of his creations is also love, is also a being with a personality. I'll repeat the last part: This God, whom Christians call Yah, or Yahweh, or Jehovah, and whose name means "I AM" has got a personality.

I'm sure some atheists have a problem with the whole personality thing. They look at the Bible and what they see of God's personality is embarrassing: they think Yah is jealous, petulant, peevish, spiteful, petty. That's what they see. But, they don't understand what I see.

This blog isn't for them. It's for those of us who accepts the creator of the universe as we find him. I accept a jealous God who thinks we owe Him. I accept that God because He loves me and because, quite honestly, He is the only God I have. If I were to find out that the Creator of the Universe was another god with a different personality I would accept that other god. Because whoever the true God is is the God I will accept and whoever the real God is...well, he is deserving of praise because He created me.

So when I see that the personality of Jah is such that Adam -- the first man-- shouted in glee when Eve was brought to him "YES!!! You did good! This is the one you made perfectly for me!"

When I see how Jah didn't accuse Adam but simply asked, "Did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?"

When I saw how Adam tried to foist off his sin on Jah (The woman YOU gave me) and how free he felt to blame Jah

When I see how Jah asked Cain "Where is your brother?" (Again, not accusing)

When I see how Cain answered Jah rudely with "Am I my brother's keeper?"

I see humility and a friendliness and an accessibility that is so near and dear and condescending that his creatures felt so free to have an attitude with him.

And when I see how angry Jah got at Miriam -- so mad at her as to symbolically tell her he had spit on her-- (saying all this while he leaned on the tent, mind you!) YES, I like this God.

Basically, we have a God who has a major fascination with beetles and has spent all the ages designing them as a kind of exercize in creativity. We have a God whose favorite geographic area is desert since he likes the land of Israel and mount Zion. We have a god who apparently likes sand a lot.

The more I discover about his personality through the Bible and through the way He treats me and throgh how he treats those he loves I will accept it. It is not the personality the proud rational atheist would want a god to have, but it is the personality of the Being who created the universe...and the more I get to know this great warrior, this great Being, the more I say "I totally love your personality!".

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Simply believe

There are many verses in the Bible which encourage the faithful believer to trust in God’s willingness to answer prayer.

John tells us that “we know we have what we pray for because we keep His commandments.” (1 John 3:22.) If we’re keeping God’s commandments, and are praying for the glory of God, and feeding our faith by studying God’s character and Jesus’ Great Finished Work on the cross, we should trust that our prayers have been answered. After all, Jesus Himself told us that when we pray we must believe that we HAVE received and we WILL receive whatever we ask for.

We are told to pray with thanksgiving. This means we must pray and give thanks for what we will receive as if we have already received it, seeing that which is invisible. Jesus gave us a wonderful example of this when he prayed for Lazarus to be brought back to life. Even before Lazarus came from the tomb, Jesus ended His prayer with the words, “I thank you, Lord, that you have heard my prayer.”

We pray every day using the word “Amen” which can be translated to mean as Surely, truthfully, verily, this is a true statement, or it’s done. Jesus told us to approach the throne of grace with boldness and courage. Our prayers end boldly, but although the world “Amen” is a bold ending to a prayer, we don’t really rise from prayer believing that our prayer has been answered. We tend to think that either God hasn’t heard our prayer or that He will spend the next few days mulling over a decision or that He wants to drag out the answer for a while in order to teach us a lesson. This is doublemindedness. We are not believing what God has said. As the apostle James said, “this kind of double-minded attitude is not going to get anything from the Lord.” Why? Because our unbelief vies with our faith.

If we use the sowing and reaping metaphors that Jesus and the apostles used to show how the kingdom of God works, we can readily see that we have more faith in the physical act of sowing and reaping than we do in the spiritual act. In the case of a physical seed, we actually believe there is a seed with the power within itself to germinate. Yet, even though Isaiah, Jesus, Paul and others told us that the word of God is active and alive and has power within it to germinate and flower, we hardly believe.

The Bible says, “Let God be true and every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) And yet, unbelief is a wonderful theologian. If we aren’t careful, we --or a really intelligent minister-- can convince ourselves that God will do the most heinous evil because he loves us. Some great religious writings can convince us that although Jesus came to heal those who were oppressed by the devil that somehow our particular oppression is not from the devil but from God.

St Paul tells us that “We are accepted in the Beloved Eph 1:6" This is the Greek word Charitoo which is translated as “full of grace” and “highly favoured” in Luke 1:28 when the angel spoke to Mary. It means freely bestowed overwhelming love. This means God loves us and has placed us in such a favored position that, like the loving Father He is, He wants to bless us more than we’re able to receive it. We’re adopted children who are His very special favorites. John says, “Behold what manner of love the Father has for us, that we should be called the Children of God.”

John states, “This is the confidence we have in God: that, if we ask anything according to His will, he hears us.” I John 5:14. He writes earlier in the same chapter, “whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world, even our faith.” Through Jesus’ name, and faith in that name, we are “more than conquerors.” And St Paul tells us that God hasn’t given us the spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.

Yet in the face of all this overwhelming evidence of God’s love towards us, the ancient inability to trust God remains. From the day our first parents hearkened to Satan’s “Did God say?” to today’s modern taunts, we humans have found it difficult to believe that God means us well. We forget that He who freely gave us His life will also freely give us all things. Plain and simple, we love God but like unworthy friends we often believe what others say about our Dear Friend more often than what He says about Himself. If it’s through faith in God’s Love and Power that we conquer the world, how can we conquer our own Promised Land if we allow rumors of giants to make us feel like grasshoppers. (Numbers 13)

The Bible tells us, “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” (Rom 3:4) And we know better than to come right out and say that God is a liar. But we work around that by making Him way more inscrutable than He really wants to be. This is not to say that we understand everything about God. We don’t. But the Bible has made His personality clear to us. He doesn’t have some hidden secret plan which prevents Him from answering our prayers. The Bible states that God does nothing without revealing His will to His people. (Amos 3:7)

We also make God unpredictable and flighty. Instead of saying that God’s promises and spiritual laws work all the time, we say that God does heavy micro-managing and sits on His throne deciding which spiritual law will work in every case. We say that whatsoever a man sows he will reap, yet we often think that in this particular case – our own problem– that particular spiritual law will not work. God’s word is sure. God does not change. His word abides forever and He honors His word. God is aware of all His children, but He does not micro-manage. Spiritual laws are as dependable as physical laws. Unfortunately, like many physical laws some spiritual laws need a faithful heart to set them in motion. The law of gravity, for instance, tends to work all the time...unless one understands how to override it. As powerful and universal as gravity is, it is routinely conquered by pilots and birds all over the world. Yet, although gravity has its weak moments, it’s not a good idea to defy it. Seeds will grow into plants if we continue to water them and so we know that we should not cast away our confidence when a physical plant seems to be weakening. We should not be weary with well-doing: God is not mocked. In due time, we will reap if we don’t faint. We depend on physical laws. This attitude should be the same when we rely on spiritual laws.

For instance, Jesus commands us not to worry and in Mark 7:14-15, He gives us some insight into spiritual law when he tells us that evils within the heart are what defile the body. As American Christians we half believe Jesus was right about this. After all, the medical world has taught us all about the dangers of being a type A personality. But do we believe what Jesus says simply because Jesus said it? For instance, do we believe that adulterous thoughts can also affect our health? Other spiritual laws or insights include: the law of giving and receiving, the power of the tongue to steer a life towards good or ill, the evil that comes upon those who hate Israel or Jewish people.

In Mark 9:23-24, when the father of the demon-possessed boy asked Jesus to help him, Jesus said, “if you can believe, all things are possible to him that believes.” To which the distraught father replied, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” This, unfortunately, is the state most western Bible-believing Christians have found themselves in. We believe greatly, and we doubt greatly. At the exact same time. Let us search the Scriptures and learn to understand and love our God. John warns us that many antiChrists are out in the world and we should test every word we hear. And Jesus tells us that if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the pit. (Luke 6:39) But Jesus warns us to “take heed how we hear.” (Luke 8:18) Let us learn to love our Father. As Jesus said, He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father. (John 14:6-20) If we know the love of Jesus, we cannot help but trust Him with our lives.

We have a great and high calling with many doors of opportunity opened to us and there are many adversaries who – wittingly or unwittingly– have set out to steal the word of truth from us or to mingle it with worldly philosophers. Let us not be removed from the simplicity of the gospel. (Gal 1:6; Rom 6:19; 2 Co 11:3 ) Let us arise and dream great dreams, let us hold onto the promises of God. Let us do great exploits and not cast away our confidence. Let us arise and shine, because our light has come. Is 60:1

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Free Promotion: My short story collection on kindle

Beginning Tuesday Sept 25th through the 29th my kindle short story collection will be free. Here's the link. Please pass it on.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Christianity, Culture and Writing: Polyamory in the Constant Tower.

In my upcoming novel, The Constant Tower, a character is suddenly faced with the possibilities of having two husbands. She thinks, "Yes, I can love them both. I am in their clan now. I can marry and love both of them." Something like that.

Although I'm a Christian, I must admit that there are times when being a Christian is restrictive. I understand the restrictions, mind you. I even assent to them. But, yes, I also acknowledge that there would be a different path to follow if I was not indoctrinated in Christianity.

Some cultures have some societal, spiritual, and cultural stuff one has to put aside. And although I would love to pick and choose what aspect of a culture or a religion I would want, such a buffet spirituality and buffet culture is very much like creating a Frankenstein creature. I think of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein often. Although the creature is portrayed as ugly, in the novel he was not ugly. Just hard to bear, hard to look upon, strange, and eerie. Beautiful bits and parts culled together -- beautiful red lips here, pale skin there, raven-like flowing locks there-- he ended up strange, "monstrous" in the old sense of the word, weirdly bizarrely larger-than-life. Thus, a religion that picks and chooses what it likes from other religions and from various cultures and societal systems or traits, becomes an inorganic unliving religion.

In my novel, my character can validly marry two husbands from the Wheel Clan because she has now become a part of the Wheel Clan, despite all her efforts against assimilation. Yet, even so...the Wheel Clan husbands she marries are not "typical" of that Clan. They are the best of their clan but they also understand her clan as well. Moreover, she was not particularly passionately attached to the men of her own clans because they were abusive. Which is all to the good. People generally carry their own culture into the culture they assimilate. Thus, Christians who become converts to Islam will have a "friendlier" idea of God, even if they do not wish to accept God as "father" or as "love." And Christians who become Hindus also often go with a more westernized idea of reincarnation (they often look forward to reincarnation instead of trying to escape the karmic wheel entirely.) So, in my case, if I were to attempt to mix Christianity with some African cultures, I don't think I would accept the whole One-husband-Many wives situation. Although the idea of many women sharing communal work, and living together in a compound is attractive, I'm too American/western to accept a system where my husband would have the right to take on a new younger wife any time he wants to.

So in Constant Tower, my female character has the best of both cultures. Her husbands are not going to treat her as the men of her culture generally treat women, but they are not going to treat her the way men in their own culture generally treat women either. My female character is  now free to have two lovers instead of the requisite "one husband" her culture deems normal. Her heart readily assents to this because she loves both boys, and perhaps was resisting the love of one. Resistance now is unimportant. In fact, it would be the wrong course to take. Her only problem now is to love them differently. It's not about quantity, but about type. Her problem now is that she must love both husbands deeply but in different ways. She is, however, spared what other women of her culture have to endure when they enter the new clan. The other women are forced to accept the rules of the new clan without the cushion my main character has. My main character loves both her husbands. She is not being forced to bed two men  -- or even one man-- whom she does not love.

When American women speak of converting, they are generally converting to an Americanized form of Islam. For instance, although Sharia law allows Moslem men to rape or beat their wives or to marry additional wives, Moslem men in America live in a Christianized West. The religion is tempered by the culture. In the same way, I suspect Christianity in the Middle East is probably very affected by being surrounded by Islam. And Christianity in Africa is also affected by cultural traditions.

The meeting of culture, emotions, and religion is not only present in matters of love, marriage, and sex. (In this case, polyamory, which occurs rarely and only in cultures where land is scarce and inherited land must be protected, thereby brothers marry the same woman) but it occurs in other matters as well. In my novel, Wind Follower, characters who became Christians had to give up the ancient tradition of speaking to their dead. Now that Christianity had popped into their lives, they had to now discern if the dead person speaking to them was truly a dead relative or a demon bent on deception. Those who are comforted by speaking to their departed relatives through shaman, etc, have to put that aside.

Of course, we Christians who live in the West are also Christians within a culture. We also do not have a "pure" form of Christianity. American Christianity is affected by the culture at large. Jesus Christ warned His followers to beware of the yeast of the king and the yeast of the religious legalists. Those to forms of yeast are very much present in modern Christianity. For some Christians, Christianity is mixed in with patriotism and the desire to rule. For some, the gospel of the kingdom is watered down and legalism abounds. Others have allowed the "progressive" ideas of the world or the desire of their flesh to color/change/taint the Christian Scripture.

The Creator of Odunao (the name of the planet in my novel The Constant Tower) has different rules about marriage than the Creator of the Earth does. When Christians read the novel, I hope they will be able to accept that god as they find him. I hope they will leave their American Christian ideas about marriage behind and live in that world without judging the polyamory laws. (Often Christians seem to be able to understand one man with two wives but seem to balk at the other configuration.) In addition the social laws of the many clans on Odunao are different from American social laws. In many novels, the king is expected to fall in love with the most beautiful woman. That doesn't happen. The men in Odunao have different ideas of beauty.

Anyway, my novel will come out one of these days. But even before it sees print, I want to remind everyone that in this day, mindfulness is necessary. Just as we are mindful as to what a character allows to become acceptable in her world -- because of her culture-- so we Christian writers, we Black writers, must be aware of the subtle societal influences that taint our stories. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Children

Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on Our Childrenby Alice ShabecoffPhilip Shabecoff

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: August 2008
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Format: Hardcover, 368pp
  • Sales Rank: 340,363


In this shocking and sobering book, two fearless journalists directly and definitively link industrial toxins to the current rise in childhood disease and death. In the tradition of Silent Spring, Poisoned Profits is a landmark investigation, an eye-opening account of a country that prizes money over children’s health.

With indisputable data, Philip Shabecoff and Alice Shabecoff reveal that the children of baby boomers–the first to be raised in a truly “toxified” world–have higher rates of birth defects, asthma, cancer, autism, and other serious illnesses than previous generations. In piercing case histories, the authors identify the culprit as corporate pollution. Here are the stories of such places as Dickson, Tennessee, where babies were born with cleft lips and palates after landfill chemicals seeped into the water, and Port Neches, Texas, where so many graduates of a high school near synthetic rubber and chemical plants contracted cancer that the school was nicknamed “Leukemia High.”

The danger to our children isn’t just in the outside world, though. The Shabecoffs provide evidence that our homes are now infested with everything from dangerous flame retardants in crib mattresses to harmful plastic softeners in teething rings to antibiotics and arsenic in chicken–additives that are absorbed by growing and physically vulnerable kids as well as by pregnant women. Compounding the problem are chemical corporations that sabotage investigations and regulations, a government that refuses to police these companies, and corporate-hired scientists who keep pertinent secrets massaged with skewed data of theirown.

Poisoned Profits also demonstrates how people are fighting back, whether through grassroots parents’ groups putting pressure on politicians, the rise of “ecotheology” in the pulpits of formerly indifferent churches, or the new “green chemistry” being practiced in labs to replace bad elements with good. The Shabecoffs also include helpful tips on reducing risks to children in how they eat and play, and in how parents clean and maintain their homes.

Powerful, unflinching, and eminently readable, Poisoned Profits is a wake-up call that is bound to inspire talk and force change.

Authors' website

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Embracing the Wide Sky by Daniel Tammet

Here's a bit of the blurb:

Daniel Tammet captivated readers and won worldwide critical acclaim with the 2007 New York Times bestselling memoir, Born On A Blue Day, and its vivid depiction of a life with autistic savant syndrome. ...
Tammet explains that the differences between savant and non-savant minds have been exaggerated; his astonishing capacities in memory, math and language are neither due to a cerebral supercomputer nor any genetic quirk, but are rather the results of a highly rich and complex associative form of thinking and imagination. Autistic thought, he argues, is an extreme variation of a kind that we all do, from daydreaming to the use of puns and metaphors.
Embracing the Wide Sky combines meticulous scientific research with Tammet's detailed descriptions of how his mind works to demonstrate the immense potential within us all. He explains how our natural intuitions can help us to learn a foreign language, why his memories are like symphonies, and what numbers and giraffes have in common. ...
Embracing the Wide Sky is a unique and brilliantly imaginative portrait of how we think, learn, remember and create, brimming with personal insights and anecdotes, and explanations of the most up-to-date, mind-bending discoveries from fields ranging from neuroscience to psychology and linguistics. This is a profound and provocative book that will transform our understanding and respect for every kind of mind.

This is his website

This is his blog.

Here's an interview in New Scientist in their January edition. You can read it in full online here:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Religious Virtues that Satan loves

Will-worship -- noble suffering, dying to self, submission rather than aiming in faith for the joy of life
legalism -- sticking to the letter of the law (as opposed to also trusting the spirit.)
repressed anger -- rather than speaking up against injustice
religious debates -- (it's okay to discuss one's faith but it's not men's wisdom that proves our religion: it's the power of God.)
Believing Everything is The Will of God -- This seems to be saying that God is omnipotent and sovereign, but it also blames God for stuff we or the devil or the world does.
Pity -- Pity will keep someone sick for ever.
Rationalism -- humans like to be praised for being good thinkers and for not being "emotional."
Denominationalism -- People like thinking they are on a good team.
Pious platitudes -- People think they are being wise and kindly when they say something holy-sounding. But they are often reinforcing some sentimental unthought-out unexplored bunch of hooey.

The reason he likes these virtues is because people think they are being good when they do them but sometimes are really falling into spiritual error and the devil's clutches.

Now, let's get into the seven deadly sins and the virtues.

The seven deadly sins are
gluttony -- enslavement to food (from overeating to only desiring a specific kind of food. A thin person who wants to eat only a specific kind of cracker or only a specific kind of beer is as much enslaved to gluttony as someone who overeats.)
sloth -- literal, intellectual, and spiritual laziness
lust -- enslavement to the desires of the flesh
anger/wrath -- enslavement to passion
envy -- enslavement to comparing one's self or one's earthly goods with others
pride -- enslavement to one's self
greed-- enslavement to the need to take everything the world has

The book of Proverbs definitely talks about these sins. Chapter 6:6-11 is good. The Book of Proverbs has 31 chapters. The best way to read it is to read the chapter for each day. On the 30th read chapter thirty, etc.

They are deadly because some sins are not sins unto death. But a deadly sin has the power to cut one's life short. Adultery, for instance, shortens life. (Did you know that less than 1% of people die while having sex but that of those who do die having sex, 87% or so were cheating on their spouse?) Gluttony also shortens life. As does sloth. And definitely pride. It goes before a fall. If someone becomes sick because of one of these sins, one may or may not pray for a full recovery because they have a sickness unto death caused by a deadly sin.

The Catholic church has a different interpretation of these sins..and I think (not sure) make them sins that even affect folks after their deaths. They have mortal (deadly) sins and then they have venial sins. The Catholic church also has it's list of virtues. Virtue can be something a person attains by working toward it. Or it can be something that grows in the person through the working of God.

The virtues depend on which list you're using. In the Bible James talks about a list of virtues, so does Paul, so does Peter in his "golden chain". 2 Peter 1:5 This leads to this which leads to that.

If you go to and do searches for these specific sins you can find a whole store of verses. They have a ton of Bible translations online. French, English, Czech, Spanish, etc.

The virtues are:
Temperance -- moderation to the point where an inner stillness prevents you from being pushed this way and that by the world, or by your own self
Faith -- the ability to hold on to God's truth in spite of what one's eyes or mind tempts one to believe.
Hope -- the ability to see a way through when there seems to be no way and to not despair. Hope also has a joy to it. This isn't just blindly trudging along but joyously advancing. It's combined with faith a lot. Because we have faith in God and in what God says we can hope joyfully.
Love or charity or Mercy -- kindness and understanding toward those who are weak, ignorant, or our enemies
Restraint or forbearance -- having the power to do a thing and yet to not do it because of the love one had for one's neighbor, the refusal to use one's power of speech, action, etc because God has a higher purpose than you merely succumbing to your desire to say or to do something.
Justice -- this is a toughie to describe.
Courage -- spiritual faith that does not falter when it is threatened.
Prudence -- the ability to think and weigh out a matter and to see the ramifications of one's choice instead of rushing headlong into trouble, also being aware that God has his own plans and our plans depend on him.

There are other virtues...virtues that are the opposite of the seven deadly sins, virtues from other traditions, etc. But for the moment, these are the ones worth pondering. -C

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Next Evangelism by Soong-chan Rah

The Next Evangelism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity
by Soong-chan Rah

180 pages
IVP Books (May 2009)
ISBN-10: 0830833609
ISBN-13: 978-0830833603

I found these reviews


"Soong-Chan Rah explores the impact of ethnic and geographic shifts on the present and future state of evangelicalism. He gives us fair warning that parts of his heartfelt book are 'intended to provoke,' and they will. But that doesn't stop his book from being timely, thoughtful and very rewarding." --Philip Jenkins, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities, Pennsylvania State University, and author of The Next Christendom

"In this manifesto for change, Soong-Chan Rah calls for the church to break free from limiting and exclusive paradigms and fully embrace the dramatic cultural diversity that is rapidly defining the twenty-first century in the United States. His powerfully persuasive pen engages and challenges the reader in ways that radically transform how church life is to be understood, shaped and lived. Everyone who cares about the Christian church in the United States needs to read The Next Evangelicalism. This book ignites hope for reconciliation in the world through the church."

Key endorsement on the back cover from Harvey Cox, Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University:
"One of the most important changes now going on in America -- and indeed world -- religion is the profound transformation of evangelicalism, a movement which encompasses hundreds of millions of people. This book is the best and most balanced treatment of the subject now available. It is well researched, written and comprehensive."

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Tenses of Salvation

The Bible uses many tenses for Salvation

By Jesus stripes we were saved
We will be saved from the warth to come
We are being saved every day
We are saved and kept by God
and there are situations where we are in the position of being able to be saved.

It's not too complicated if we think of all the meanings of the word salvation and if we think of all we are required to do.

Our immortal souls are saved from hell and the wrath of God (a future occurrence.)
Our souls are being saved (in the present) from being tainted by this present evil world as we work out our own salvation through fear and trembling.
Our bodies were saved (before the foundations of the earth and when Jesus died on the cross) from disease by Jesus by whose stripes we were healed.
We are being saved (in the present) by the engrafted word of God which is able to save us but only if we abide in the word because this kind of salvation and sanctified life is given only to those who 1) seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness...and 2) rest in the word 3) forgive, 4) water the word with thanksgiving 5) are loving (because faith works by love.)

If any of us are sick and have had the prayer of faith prayed over us, we are being saved by our faith in God. This means

Jesus tells us that A) we command the body to be healed and B) we believe that our prayer has been answered because JEsus said, "When you pray believe that you receive." Jesus also said, "Everyone that asks receives." St Paul said, "All the promises of God are yes and Amen in Christ through the father."

This means:
A) It's not about whether God answered our prayers. It's about whether we believe God has answered our prayers.

B) Believe you receive WHEN you pray.

This means:
We do not "Believe when you see the answer to your prayer" (Remember, "We walk by Faith, not by sight.")

Nor do we believe that God is "going to answer" our prayers. (Remember, Daniel's prayer was answered but Satan fought against him for 21 days.)

So we are saved in the spirit and God has given healing virtue in the spiritual realm but we are to ask God for wisdom, boldness, perseverance that will enable us to get the manifestation of what God has promised.

Let's say a person comes to Christ for the saving of his soul. He believes that he is a great sinner and that Jesus SAVED him from his sin and will continue to save him from this present evil world. He then asks God to forgive him for his sins and he forgives all those who had hurt him because he knows that God has said "forgive us our sins as we forgive others." He acknowledges that he cannot get to God by his own wisdom, by any mystical experience, by his own goodness. He decides to repent from his sins and from his own dead works. He asks Jesus to save him.

What does he think God is saving him from? Well, it all depends on what he has been taught.

When does he think he is saved? Well, it all depends on what he has been taught.

Suppose he has been told by the Christian who preached to him, "When you are saved, you will be saved from all your sins and the power of sin. You will be saved from all the disease you have." It often happens that miracles occur at the point of his accepting of Christ because he was taught that Jesus saves to the uttermost. His idea of salvation is pretty large. But most people have faith for things they don't see rather than for things they do see. Remember, Jesus said, "Which is easier to say? Your sins are forgiven you? OR Take up your bed and walk?" It's easier to say "Jesus has saved your soul." Because the Christian doesn't have to put his faith on the line by actually proving anything visible. But in places where people have no prejudice against the full gospel, it's just as easy to tell the new convert "be healed" as to say "be saved." (Of course in the Bible the word for salvation means: healed, saved from sickness, saved from death, saved from hell, saved from demons.

The new convert in the west is usually told one of two things:

One of the typical thing he is told in the west: "Jesus saves your soul and has saved you from sin. This means Jesus has saved a person from the power of sin. Your spirit is now empowered to not sin. Sin has no more power over you. When you fight against sin's temptations, you will win because greater is God against you than he than is in the world."

Or the new convert is told: "Jesus saves your soul from sin. Now, go and sin no more." This is also true but the new convert is now made to feel that he is fighting sin all by his lonesome self. He must now go out into the world with his own will with no spiritual help.

Either way, let's say the new convert comes to the Christian who converted him three days later and says, "I prayed the prayer of faith but I don't feel saved. I don't feel good. I don't feel this extra love of God or this love of holiness I'm supposed to feel. I still don't like the idea of reading my Bible and I still want to smoke weed, drink, and hang out with the ho's down the block." The Christian who helped to convert him is likely to say, "Some people don't feel saved. Some do. You aren't supposed to go on how you feel. Just trust that you are. Believe that God HAS saved you and He IS saving you every day from the power of sin and that you WILL BE saved from death, the world, and the flesh. Just trust the word of God and the spirit of God and the blood of Jesus to save you....Oh yeah, and try to read your Bible anyway. Because you really need to read the word for the word to change you. The word is active powerful and transforming."

The same is true of getting a miracle for healing. We are prayed for but we say, "The Bible says, 'By Jesus stripes I am healed' but I don't feel healed." The answer is: "The Bible doesn't say you will "feel" healed. It only says you are healed. Walk by faith in the word of God and the blood of Jesus and the power of the holy spirit. You were SAVED and HEALED. The word is working within you TO SAVE AND TO HEAL you...even now! Only receive the healing as already given and you will SEE it. So, continue taking your spiritual medicine (the word of God) and the medicine your doctor has told you to take. Ask Wisdom of God about the seed and root of the illness. But think of each prayer as the moving of a mountain. When the mountain is big and faith is small, God has provided that the healing will come as the growing of a plant. First the blade, then the full plant, then the flower. So know that you are moving the mountain. The mountain may not be in the sea but it is NEAR the sea. Only believe that you have already received your healing from God." Jesus said, "Did I not say to you: If you will believe, you will see the salvation of the lord?"

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Verses that touched me this morning

Pharoah's daughter went down to the river to bathe -- Exodus 2:5
Wow!!! Think of that. A small little decision like that is direction and guidance from God....PLUS God's timing. And deliverance is made for God's people. If she had bathed elsewhere or earlier or later.... what would have happened to Moses?

The chastisement of our peace was upon him. -- Isaiah 53
Mental healing is in the redemption. So many illnesses come from not being peaceful. There are so many emotional wounds in the world. We often think of Jesus as the great physician of our bodies but he was despised and rejected of men so that our spirits can be healed.

Whatever things are lovely, true, joyous, of good report. -- Phillipians
Here I was praying to God for manifestation of my healing... but in my mind I imagine, "well, will I be able to go on an airplane? No, I imagine myself getting very tired for the entire trip." My imagination needs to be restored and trained to see good things.

And last but not least a God wink.

Backstory: when my son was just a year old I was sitting on the bed when I heard quite loudly the holy spirit say "Rest." I wasn't resting. I got up and went to the other side of my bedroom to pick up my son. He had taken four letter cubes from the pile of alphabet blocks and had spelled out in perfect order R E S T.
I was amazed...and yet... I didn't really take the advice. I should have. Maybe learning to rest back then would have spared me this fibromyalgia.

This morning I was lying in bed and the same son -- now 21-- sat beside me. I kept telling myself to rest and to stay in bed until 9:30 or 10:30 just to recoup from another night of sleeplessness. I told myself to do that every morning. But theer I was...about to get up when older son decides to come and lie down beside me on the bed. I was reading a devotional so I said to him, "Pick any number from 1 to 472." He said, 372. I turned to the page and this was the verse it was talking about: "God blessed the sabbath day because he rested." Then the devotional went on to talk about the value of resting.

This kinda stuff happens to Christians all the time. So what does one say when atheists who have never experienced these kind of things tell us that God doesn't exist?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

What God says we have versus what we believe we have

I John 2:12-14

Okay, this is how the verse reads:

12I write to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, dear children,
because you have known the Father.
14I write to you, fathers,
because you have known him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one

As Christians we all agree with verse 12. Those of us who have been in church all our lives have been trained from birth to believe that God has forgiven us. Okay, some of us still think that God is ready to get mad at us over every little thing -- perhaps because we have been in churches where the minister majors on sin-- but for the most part we all accept the idea that Jesus saved us from sin.

Where we part from God is ...well, pretty much everything else.

Verses 13 and 14 tell us what we have and what we know. According to God. But we don't believe we know the Father. We don't really believe we have overcome the evil one. We don't really believe the word of God is living and active and powerful in us. Remember when Thomas (or was it Philip?) said to Jesus, "Show us the way to the Father!" and Jesus said to him, "You know the way." Philip said, "! I don't know the way." There he was disagreeing with Jesus about what Jesus told him about the truth. We Christians are always doing that.

We are told in the Bible that we have the mind of Christ. That means God's love is within us, God's power over sin is within us. Very few of us believe that.

We are told in the Bible that we can heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the leper. We don't really have faith for that. Not really.

We are told in the Bible that we all have been given the like measure of faith. The same talent given to all, that we can build on if we choose to walk out on faith. We don't believe that. We believe that God has given some people great faith and other people little faith. Not true. In the Bible the difference between great faith and little faith is the fact that some folks have a deeper understanding of what they have and the power of faith. We all have the same measure of faith. We just have to use that servant instead of letting the servant sit around doing nothing. Come on, when was the last time you spoke to a mountain? How many of us have planted the word and trusted that it is growing whether or not we see the blade or not?

The Lord tells us "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
The Lord tells us "By Jesus' stripes we were healed."
Why do we lack, then? Why are we unhealed?
Because we do not receive with meekness the engrafted word that is able to save.
Because we do not enter into God's rest and trust that the active living word of God is working mightily in us. Hey, we have had mega-religious teaching that tells us that God makes us suffer for his glory, that God wants us to strive and strive before we receive the answer to a prayer. But that's not what the Bible says. The Bible says God answers speedily. The Bible says the seed grows secretly at first. The Bible says just as something demonic fought against Daniel's prayer so sometimes the devil fights against the fulfillment of the prayer. Most of the problem with unanswered prayer has very little to do with God's willingness. God is loving and willing. God is a good God, not a tyrant. The problem is with us receiving and truly doing what the Bible tells us to do to pull that prayer into the natural. Trust me: I know whereof I speak. I'm a minister's grandkid and it took me years to get past some traditional theology and see what the Bible is actually saying.

Let God be true and every man a liar. This means...the lies in our own mind which come against the truth as revealed in the Bible.
Hey, I'll admit that I'm not sold on the idea that every mountain I talk to is gonna go. But I know it should, I know it will...if I keep up the good fight of faith.

Hubby had a funny dream which shows God's wit. He dreamt that a great minister whom he highly respects called him and said, "Come with me and help me cast this demon out." My hubby was perplexed that a minister so great would be asking him for help. But the dream is right and totally true. We all are equal in God's eyes. No one is more powerful than another. We tend to put certain people into categories as powerful Christians but the Lord has said, "Would that all the Lord's people were prophets!"

There's an old saying about "It's hard to go building your house in a storm." Very true. When you have no house and a storm comes, you run to your neighbor's house and say 'My house is shoddy. I can't stay in it now with this terrible downpour. Can I stay here?' So we run to the prayers of those who have learned how to use their prayers for others. But we can't keep doing that. We have to learn how to build up our own faith. So that we can move our own moutains and help other folks who might need our prayers.

In the epistle of James, God tells us that when we look into the Bible we look into a mirror and see who we really are. When we look at the world, the world tells us what we are. Therefore we must take heed what we hear and accept what God tells us we have received. In the book of Hebrews we are told that the physical world is built on the intangible word of God. Faith brings spiritual things into tangible reality physical form. But how can we believe God's report if we use some of man's tradition's to blind us to what it is really saying. Jesus said the traditions of man have made the word of God to none effect. So we must read the word, trusting God to speak the truth in our hearts and to remove the false theologies from our spirits, minds, and hearts.

Read the Word. Believe what it says. Ask God to enlighten you and to help you perceive the truth. Cast down your imaginations...and trust what God said.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fear not their fear

Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.
Isaiah 8:11-13

Jesus tells us over and over that in the last days there will be all kinds of deception and lies. He also tells to be careful how we hear and to keep our eyes on the light of his word.

Okay, not that I'm anti-hospital and anti-AMA but I DO get annoyed when they get into prophetic mode.

I've never been one to jump on any bandwagon. Took me years to get a CD and a computer. And I still don't have a microwave. (Because they kill all the nutrition in food) but back in the day I remember a New Yorker article warning about the dangers of increased cancer risks in those who had taken meds to lower cholesterol. That was 20 or so years ago. And still the media and doctors tell people they must lower their cholesterol because high cholesterol is a "disease."
Okay, high cholesterol may have been linked with heart disease in some people, but it doesn't mean high cholesterol is the cause of their heart disease. It might just be a corollary to the heart disease...and something else might be behind both the heart disease and the high cholesterol. Like hemcysteine. Or remember the days when they thought ulcers were caused by stomach acids then they now realize it's caused by bacteria. And the stomach acids are now corollary.

Anyway check out:
In the current study the ideal LDL cholesterol level was 126. The researchers were able to identify a bell shaped curve, in terms of a departure in either direction from this ideal number. LDL over 146 or less than 107 was associated with 33% increased risk of cancer. LDL over 164 of less than 87 was associated with a 50% increased risk. The risk keeps getting worse the higher or lower the number progresses away from the ideal of 126. LDL in the range of 108 - 145 had no statistically significant cancer risk, although being in the center of this range is clearly best.

The rest of this article can be found at:

While you're at it, check out this article on mammograms versus thermograms.

The surprising truth about breast checks

The upshot of this post: don't fear medical prophecies. The medical world is ruled by big pharmaceuticals who want to make money and by docs who don't really know as much as they should...and by folks who make wrong conclusions, scare folks, then fifty years later change their minds. Remember, these were the folks who used to do lobotomies. Medicine keeps changing and reversing itself. God never changes. Seek his wisdom. And let us not accept the seed of Satan's deception. To accept the seed of fear is to plant it in one's heart. And Jesus tells us that out of the heart are the issues of life. Accept a seed of fear, believe it and plant it, water it everyday and soon it will bear fruit. We don't want that. We must trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not to men's understanding. Or at least we should take what they say with a heavy grain of salt.

Been sleeping. Drinking my water and getting my son. Ah vitamin D!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Ask Seek Knock: Part 1: Ask

"Ask, and you shall receive. Seek, and you shall find. Knock, and the door shall be opened to you." Matt 7:7

These encouraging words of our Lord not only help us to persevere in prayer, they help to make our minds like Christ's. True, we know that we are being conformed to Christ and His mind is daily being formed in us. But we often forget that we are beings who are made for Eternity, and we will not be able to receive a full reward if we enter into our Real Country with personalities and character traits more suited to this land we presently sojourn in.

In addition to receiving, finding, and having a door opened, we also are learning to worship God in spirit and in truth. Jesus encourages us to Ask, Seek, and Knock. If we follow this command, we will achieve the fruits of love, faith, and hope. As St Paul tells us these are the three things that endure.

Asking and Receiving
When we ask, we are trusting that God hears us. We are consciously believing that Jesus loves us and has heard our prayers. But asking is not enough. After we ask, we must train our minds to look expectantly for the answered prayer. The saints in Heaven were people who learned how to see the invisible. They saw heaven before they got there. They saw the visible result of prayer when there was only God's Scriptural word --the invisible seed hidden in their heart. Like them, we must learn to have a confident expectation that the good seed will flower and produce fruit. We must learn to believe in the seed growing secretly. The Bible tells us that the wind blows where it wills. (John 3:8) The Scripture tells us that God is the Husbandman who gives seed to the sower, who sends rain and sunshine, who prunes and fertilizes the plant, and who gives the increase. But we also have our part. We are to water the word, watching in prayer with thanksgiving. (Col 4:2) When we plant earthly seeds in the springtime, we believe that there is power in the seed to grow. Although we don't see the seed because the dirt covers it, we know the seed exists. Earthly farmers use earthly methods to reap their harvests. We are spiritual seed-planters. When we ask God for something, we are using God's word to plant invisible seed. God's word is active and powerful (Heb 4:12) and it has life in itself just as earthly seeds have life in themselves. God's word accomplishes what God sends it out to do. BUT this spiritual seed must be watered spiritually. Our prayers must be planted, watered, weeded, and reaped spiritually. How do we do this? We water the seed by praising God and believing that the prayer has been granted, even when we do not see any signs of the result of our prayer. That's how we "receive." The Word of God is an imperishable seed. It will not die. The calling and grace of God are without repentance. God doesn't take back what He gives. But we must be careful not to neglect the gifts that God has given us. If the word of God will profit us, we must mix it with our faith. We need to water the seed by faith. St Paul tells us that we water the word by giving thanks for what God has done. Jesus said, "When you pray, believe that you have received and you will have." St Paul says, "In due time, we will reap if we faint not." When we praise God in faith for something we have not yet seen with our human eyes, we are "believing that we have received." We are not fainting; instead we are participating in the reaping of the precious promises of God. We don't know when or how, but in "due time" -- the harvest time-- the seed will grow. We walk by faith and enter God's court with praise, trusting that He has already answered our prayer. This means that we don't begin our prayers with doubt, but with a faith that God has already answered our prayers. Oftentimes we begin to believe that God has heard our prayer when we start seeing an answer to our prayers. The little sprouts and blade begin to rise and then we start praising God. That's well and good, but we are to walk by faith in God's word, not by what we see. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Therefore, we must live expecting that something good is happening even now. In all things and in all situations, we must rejoice -- regardless of what our human eyes see-- because the eyes and heart of faith know that God is in charge and that He cares for us.

But why do we water the seed. What is the real reason? How can we continue watering seed when we have not seen the blade, the stalk, the full flower? Because we know the personality and character of God. We love Him because He first loved us. As we give thanks and walk in love and wonder at His goodness, we train our souls to trust in God's love, power and providence.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The lovely Corinthian Church

When I think of what new testament church I'd like to hang out it, I think I would have loved the Corinthian Church. Or the Philipian Church.

But back to the Corinithian Church.

They had tons of spiritual gifts and they were constantly confusing earthly mysticism, earthly demonic stuff, with God's way of working with his spirit. Because the Dionysian cult in the city went all ecstatic in their spirituality they believed God's spirit would "take them over too." Paul had to remind them that things should be done decently and in order and the spirit of the prophet was subject to the prophet. (Yes, Juanita Bynum, please note: the spirit isn't taking you over. You've got to learn when to quit and not go overboard.)

The Corinthian Church also went overboard with their acceptance of sinful folks. A little gnosticism, a little pride, a heck of a lot of 'turning the grace of God into lasciviousness'

But this is the bunch that Paul said wasn't short of any spiritual gift, and that he encouraged to seek more spiritual gifts.

God's gifts are just that: God's gifts. They aren't the fruits of the spirit. Some very immature people are given God's gifts. Some very sinful people too. So, when we look at folks like Ted Haggard, Todd Bentley, and many great healers or folks who have shown that God's great gifts is working within them...we should not judge too harshly. God uses all Christians and gives His gifts to all people. And some folks know how to use the law of faith. It doesn't mean we should continue sinning, but we should be merciful to folks because we are sinners also, are we not? We're still trying to be full of God's holiness but it is the father's good pleasure to give us the kingdom -- they're gifts from a loving father, after all.

And interestingly, Paul writes to the Corinthian church saying, "I can't give you meat. I can only give you milk." So that's intense. Corinthians, as deep as it sounds, is only spiritual milk. There is no depth or meat in the Corinthian Church letters. Yet, we contemporary Christians have not even attained to some of the wisdom written there. Sad, uh?

The ideal of the lost

I was lying in bed when I heard this phrase in my spirit:
The ideal of the lost

I didn't know what it meant. Still don't. But It so reminded me of something Oswald Chambers would say. I don't know if it connects to my personal life alone, or to the USA because this is July 4th, or to Christendom.

We all have ideals of lost things, don't we? Lost Eden, versus The reality of the regained Dominion, maybe. Lost ideal of ourselves and the way we were. Who knows?
was really strong in my spirit though

I thought about how Oswald would do it, the way he does his books and came up with the following balance out the entire concept and meditation.
The ideal of the lost -- the Ideal of what America supposedly wasthe ideal of our lost health, our lost youth, the ideal of what Man lost in Eden and lost, the ideal of what True Christianity was intended to be... True or False Nostalgia?

the reality of the lost --  

the ideal of the found, 

the reality of the found.

I still don't know what it all means...but pondering.

There is often an idealization of something lost, isn't it? Our old selves before the illness, the old computer game which we loved and used to play but now windows doesn't work with it. There is also the Great-Might-have been, the stuff we thought we should have gotten in this life. For American and Americans, there is the great idea of how wonderfully noble and pure the USA was -- the city set on a hill and all that. For Christianity, there is the idea of what Christ meant his church to be...and what happened after philosophy, religion, and culture messed with it. The reality of the lost is another thing. Was that card game really so good? Was the old neighborhood really that good? Was I -- even in my healthiness and beauty-- really as healthy nd beautiful as all that? Sometimes one is sick but it doesn't show. Or the old lost friend...maybe they weren't as perfect as all that. Or American history, the reality was there were a heck of a lot of white guys who had power and the Native Americans were being deprived. As for Christianity, the good old days were full of persecutions from outside and schisms from within. So even in its heyday, it was still struggling to do what Jesus told them. Or we wouldn't have all those letters from the apostles telling folks to get their act together. The Ideal of the found is pretty much that "now tht we have it" all shall be well. The new found friend, the new found weight loss, the new found house, the new found president, the new found government. And the reality of the found. The found in reality is also something one has to keep working for. Just because one was lost and now am found doesn't mean the work stops. the new found law (did the civil rights act really help Blacks as much as folks thought it did? Will gay marriage really be as great as gay folks think it will be?Thinking, thinking...YAY...this'll be my post for today

This is Rose-Marie's take:

such a good word, carol. i was thinking of something similar this morning. we are so afraid to lose
and be lost and yet we must be. it is our goal to be lost to ourselves so that wemight be found in him.
that is not a truism that we just say that is crazy religion that makes no sense. it is a fundamentla principle
i think, but we hestitate to truly believe it because it feels weird.  
i read this book about memory....cant remember name but it was talking about how our memory
is not accurate and we idealize things, (probably making them into somewhat of an idol)--my addition.
all of what you say is true, the good old days werent as good as we thought they were but somewhere,
in some of all this, is a line of sweetness of all that is good and true, and maybe that is what we long for.
not in platonian terms but in our longing for God who produces good from the horrible wrecked and beauty
from ashes.
i live in massachusetts and cringe when people talk about how christian we were back then.
the whole massachusetts bay colony was built on the idea of being a "city on a hill"  but they were
notoriously pharisaical and intolerant in a bad way. and they had known what it was to escape persecution
...we never had the "christian" america that we thought we did. not to diminish what we did have--for we
did have a lot!

This is Debra's take on it:

Interesting and I shall ponder. Being July 4 of course one is put in mind of the ideals our nation started with, and how so many of those are lost. Is our civilization failing, or merely evolving? Are we headed to a dark age, or merely shifting in to the next thing?

If... continuing in the metaphor... our nation is lost, then what does that say about the ideals? Are they lost as well? (No). And what is to be done with those ideals then?

Same for Christianity. As you know, the reason I left the church had nothing to do with Christ or Christ Consciousness. Rather the extreme lack of it in the institutions to which I was witness. Obviously Christ lives on and I found Him again through a wee Hindu man named Paramahansa Yogananda.

Or maybe personally to either of us. I have been snickering to myself as recent years sure have ripped the material away from me. And yet this has been a true blessing to my personal development. I'm pretty pared down now, and yet this is the best place I've been as an adult I believe. No money, no property, and age moving in fast, yet I'm smarter and more real now. I imagine the same for you as well.

This is a great suggestion for thought today and I thank your guides or whoever whispered it in your ear. And thank you for sharing.

Is Lost really lost? Or is Lost really Found? 

This may require a glass of tequila.

So I have much to ponder.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Verse that jumped out to me this morning: Boldness

1 Timothy 3:13 For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 3:12-14

Wow!!! So...faithfulness in being a deacon brings the spiritual gift of boldness!!!!! Wow!!! Is that why Stephen was so bold in preaching!

Is that why we see so few manifestations of spiritual gifts nowadays?

The Bible teaches us in many ways how to increase in boldness in faith and in witnessing. It says faith comes by hearing. (Which is good. It's not as if one can never get better faith. We are told that faith cometh. So we can increase our faith by hearing.)

But here it says we can also get the spiritual gift of boldness by doing the physical human earthly thing of being good deacons.

Ecclesiastes 8:1 Who is as the wise man? and who knoweth the interpretation of a thing? a man's wisdom maketh his face to shine, and the boldness of his face shall be changed.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Hebrews 10:18-20

1 John 4:17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Loving Philip -- the non-prejudiced disciple

One of my favorite disciples is Philip. I just love this guy. I mean, Peter even had racial issues AFTER he received the holy spirit, after he had the vision of the sheet dropping down to heaven. His prejudice against gentiles and non-Jews is soooo ingrained that even in chapter seven of ACTS he buckles when some of the Jewish disciples like James saw him eating with gentile believers. Once a wimpy reed always a wimpy reed even if Jesus named him Rock it just didn't take.

But Philip, sweet wonderful Philip is totally different. During Jesus' disciple, Philip brought some Greek believers to speak to him. Philip also was the one who spoke to the eunuch of the Candace of Egypt. But especially, Philip was wonderful to the Samaritans.

The Samaritans were a group of people whom the Jews rejected. Basically what happened was that the Jews were taken out of their land by the conquering folks. 2 Kings 17. A few of them remained and then the conquering folks put strangers --non-Jews-- in the Jesus land to repopulate the land. The Jewish religion there and the Jewish people there got all mixed up. When the Jews returned to the land t0 build the temple, the Samaritans offered to help to build the temple but the returning Jews rejected them because they were mixed "Get your unholy hands off our temple."

Incidentally, beginning with Abraham the Jews had a history of rejecting folks they just didn't consider holy enough. Both Abraham and Isaac didn't believe that the gentiles they encountered were even decent enough to acknowledge God or marriage. It's the problem with a spiritual vision of being a great people, I think. And folks in the United States have it too. Heck, Joseph (Jacob's son) had the same problem. If you have a great vision, you just belittle everyone else around you. And Jacob's sons killed Shechem (the prince who got involved with Dinah) because they didn't think he was good enough.

Anyways, the Samaritans got rejected and built their own temple to God since the Jews didn't want to include them as God's people. But Jesus accepted the Samaritans.

Andn so did Philip. He was so accepting that he even had Simon "Magus" in his ranks and accepted him before Peter gave Simon a talking to. So whenever I think of Philip, I think what an open-minded lover of different cultures he was. It's been said by some that the book of ACTS was written by the evangelist Luke in order to make Jewish disciples see that God was doing mighty acts through Paul among the gentiles. Hey, we know Philip didn't need the book of ACTS to tell him that God loved the gentiles -- and even the hated Samaritans. He had the loving knowledge in him all along.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Critiquing and the Curse of Insightfulness

Ever had a situation occur where you're critiquing someone's story or reviewing a novel and you get this really weird vibe?

I'm not talking about a vibe the writer intentionally put into the story. Something about the writer's own issues. I'm talking about the old phrase: "A bad novel tells about its author." Heck, even a great story can tell too much about its author.

Sometimes you -- the critiquer-- sense that something is not quite right. Others may not sense it -- which makes you look like a total nut-case.

It happens in various ways.

Consider a short story written by a friend of mine. I will only describe this friend as "light-skinned."
In her story, she wrote about how the way her neighborhood changed. Apparently, all was well in this great black and white integrated neighborhood, then some dark-skinned Caribbeans (or might have been Jamaicans) came and ruined the neighborhoods, getting their dark hands -- like monkeys-- into everything. Okay, so I said, "I understand this story is written from the main character's POV but this doesn't work for me. Not that I have a problem with a prejudice protagonist. But there is a certain passion and anger here that --yes, although the MC is angry-- feels odd to me."

The author's response: "It's the MC's pov."

Well, whatever... But I will state that this type of character shows up way too much in this writer's work.

Then there is the black Christian writer friend -- dark-skinned like me-- whose non-fiction piece was about how bad blacks were ruining it for good blacks...and whose EVERY novel has a black woman with green eyes. If this woman has written a story about a tragic mulatto once, she has written it a zillion times. Oh, she doesn't come out and say "tragic mulatto" but she always has ignorant dark-skinned black characters set up against good green-eyed black character. Is this self-loathing or what?

Okay, so I'm talking about a certain consistency. That's because I don't want to be wrong or unfair. Why assume a guy is bigoted against religious folks or Jewish folks or Blacks or Asians or Mexicans only because of one story? 

But sometimes....ONE story is often what one needs. Because when one challenges some aspect of the story, the writer's reaction is a bit over-the-top. This is because the story is too close to the author's heart. And when they challenge you on why you have challenged them, it feels like they're trying to convince everyone of the nobility of their character's choice and behavior when in fact what is going on is quite atrocious -- the way the story is written.  

The thing is... I can deal with any kind of plot in a story. Seriously. I have a terrible honesty. A true witness delivers souls, as the Bible says. So I tend to go all honest in my stories. If someone comes up to me and says, "this or that about this story seems to be about your situation," I will probably say yes. Or if someone thinks I've created a character in a "bad light" and they therefore feel they cannot like a particular character, I will probably say, "Yes, I've created her in a bad light purposely. I am being honest. The character is like me. If you don't like her, that's too bad. Do you judge everyone based on their horrible character traits? Are you so perfect?" Yeah, I'd probably say that.

But when there is something terribly dishonest and veiled in the way the narrator has presented certain characters or situations to the reader, well, I have to scream foul, because something feels inherently dishonest.. Yep, dishonest. Because there is something vaguely self-serving and unreliable about the POV, about the narration, about the rationalizations, about the whole set-up. Why can't the character simply come out and say or do the wrong thing? Why must the character be seen as right (and the story has to go through a zillion hoops to prove the rightness of the character)? Why can't the character simply be someone who is wrong, has made the wrong choice, and the author is gonna let it stand, bare before us with no rationalizations? Because the write is not being honest....and this is the hardest story to critique because you're up against a writer who either knows she is wrong (but will defend it to the death) or who believes she (oops, her character) is right and will close her eyes to any kind of truth you throw at her?

Obviously stories like these are nestled high on a point in the writers' own life and it almost makes the critiquer wonder if the writer or someone she knows has done this kind of thing and rationalized it away in a similar way. It screams of a writer who is trying to pretend that there is not an issue when there is and unfortunately those stories are the most aggravating to read...

The story as it is presented will give readers two different reactions. Some might see the story the way the reader wants everyone to see it (I so will not say what I want to say about readers who encourage writers in their delusions) and some will really dislike the main character and wonder about the author. The scary thing is that a few years after the story is published, if the writer is sane and has matured....the writer will re-read the story, and they will understand exactly what the critiquer meant to say and will be surprised at their own dishonesty. (I won't even talk about the writers who didn't grow or mature.) By then, of course, the writer will have lost a friend because A) the writer didn't want to acknowledge she had allowed her neuroses to create a false story or B) the critiquer will have lost all patience with the writers' dishonesty. The curse of insightfulness alas is that the critiquer often never quite realizes she is about to step into the it's difficult to stop one's self until after the writer has thrown a hissy fit and gone into full-blown victim mode.. 

Just saying. 

Blog Archive

Popular Posts